Where are we

Friday 10 September 2021

Weather and Walks

We're back in the Whangarei area in Marsden Cove Marina. We had planned to be here just a couple of days to check on friends boats that are out of the water when the Delta variant raised its ugly head in Auckland.  We have just come out of approximately three weeks of full Covid lockdown and will be at Level 2 as of noon today. We have been safe and well throughout and are due our second Covid jab in about a few days.

We spent the previous month in the Bay of Islands. We like it there for the convenience anchoring off Paihia and dingying ashore to the shops and laundrette. We also have the use of a car and we take advantage of the free parking across the road from the Paihia Police Station. This is not as secure as it sounds as the station is seldom manned. 

(Funny story from pre-Covid.  Tim and I still had the hire car I did all the touring in and we drove from Whangarei up to Paihia to meet Jeremy and Suzy from Joy of Shamrock.  It was summer and as a holiday resort Paihia was really busy. Parking is limited and we could only find a few 30 minute parking spots free.  I popped into the tourist office to ask where the nearest long term or better yet free parking was.  The gentleman at the counter started to explain and then noticed the Tilley hat I was wearing.  It turned out he was a Tilley hat enthusiast. He pointed to his Tilley hanging on the hook behind him, then leaned in close and said quietly, 'There's no parking attendant on duty in Paihia today.' Happy day.)

When we moved up to Larus up to the Bay of Islands, Tim took the bus down to Whangarei to bring the car we are looking after for the absent owner up to Paihia.

We haven't used the car as much as we'd like because of the winter weather. Depending on the wind direction and strength and/or the swell direction and height we will move to the most sheltered bay for the conditions.  We often end up quite a long way from Paihia.

For our biggest forecast blow we headed to Pipi Bay, Motorua Island.  It's a long narrow high-sided horseshoe shaped bay. It very well sheltered from the southwest through to the northeast and is seldom trouble by swell.  When we arrived there were already two boats tucked into the bay so we ended up farther out than we hoped. It is a good deep bay and with a well set anchor and lots of chain out we were in a very good position.

The two day forecast called 30 knots winds gusting to 45 knots and periods of 40 knots gusting 55 knots, but as expected we experienced nothing like that.  Our maximum gust was just over 40 knots.  In the bay the surface is nice and flat so all we had to suffer was the flukiness of the gusts.

Stuck on board in bad weather makes getting exercise ashore difficult, so when we do have a break in the weather we go walking.

There are some lovely walks in the area - a very steep one that takes you up to The Lookout for views across the bay toward Russell,  an 8 km one-way coastal walk to between Paihia and Opua and a new walk for us from Paihia to the Hurua Falls.


 The walk to Hurua Falls followed along the river, through the mangroves up to the Falls.

I did not know all these things about this type of mangroves. The mangroves in the Caribbean that we are more familiar with are quite different.

The falls were farther than I thought, 6 km one way rather than 5, making it even more of a blow to discover that the public toilets were being refurbished and not open.

Stoats are a big problem for Kiwis (the bird) throughout New Zealand.  I think that they were brought in to keep the imported rabbits population in check, but kiwi chicks are a much easier meal.  Traps are found all along the path and all have a message of some sort for example: 94% of kiwi chicks are killed by stoats.  The trap photographed was at the top a particulary long and steep hill.  The traps are baited with a chicken's egg.  

The walks are more limited in the Marsden Cove area. It's flat as a pancake and more residential, but being on the coast makes the walks that we can do ever changing with the rise and fall of the tides.

More walks photos. I enjoying taking them more than Tim enjoys waiting for me to take them.

My foot and a Horseshoe Mussel surrounded by a little rock oysters.  The oysters are edible but the Horeshoe Mussel is not. Piahia walk.

The most beautiful stick I have seen in a long time.  It was over a foot long and surprisingly heavy, a dense hardwood possibly.  Space is at a real premium on a boat and I am almost content with a photo. Paihia walk.

The mouth of Whangarei Harbour is a short walk from Marsden Cove Marina, One Tree Point. One Tree Point is such a great name for an area.

Tide out. 
Something lives at the bottom of that hole, but I was okay with not knowing what. 
In the distance you can just make out the Marsden Point Refinery.  There is also a port where ships are loaded with enormous logs for export. You can't see it, but if the wind is blowing from the right direction there is a strong scent of pine.

Tide In. Variable Oystercatchers 

Patiriella regularis, also known as the Cushion Star.

Spoonbills which are relative newcommers from Australia.

Tide out

Tide in. 
In other locations we have seen starfish making their way labouriously down to the waters edge.  This one has made no effort at all.

Thanks to having use of a car, now often walk on Ruakaka Beach.

Ruakaka Beach is spectacular, particularly when the tide is out.

The high water line is artfully strewn with shells and driftwood. 
New Zealand tends not to put out garbage bins in public places. Instead they post signs telling you to take your rubbish home with you.  This policy works very well and this beach at least was pristine.

I couldn't resist creating a little beach art.  We've often seen rock, shell and dirft wood circles on beach in the Caribbean.  I liked that as the tide comes in my canvas will be washed clean. Also, I could only find a very short stick to draw with so it was a punishing workout for the ole glutes.

Purple seaweed on silver sand.

Oystercatcher tracks on the spit of land between the freshwater estuary and the sea.

The tracks were outside the roped off area.  In fact most of the birds were outside the roped off area.

A very different day from the clear skies of our first visit. 
There are two walks we do at Ruakaka; we either turn left for a long walk or right for a short walk.  on our last walk we turned left and walked toward the river where the birds are nesting.  

As we walked along a young Fur Seal dashed out of the dunes, passed us by about 2 metres and carried on straight into the sea. It rolled and ducked under the slight waves rather otter like.  We continued our walk, which takes us to the estuary, a little up the river, along behind the dunes and then back onto the beach.  There was no sign of the seal and I hope it had hustled back into the dunes and was cuddled up with its friends/relactives who had been too cowardly/lazy to come out.

Last but not least a totally unrelated photo taken at the thermal springs near Piahia. Laura and I visited in January 2020 and they have been greatly refurbished. Tim had been longing for a bath and this was our only option.  
The temperature range of the pools on that day was between 10C to 45C.  Tim stuck to the middling temperature pools. Once I got up my nerve, I altered between the 45C pool and the 15C pool.  The trick of the hot pool, I was told, is to lean back and keep you toes in the air.  The trick of the cold pool was to move as little as possible so the water warmed by your body stays near you body.  Both tricks seemed to work and getting into both got easier surprisingly quickly.
It was a busy day with coach loads of people from Whangarei up for the day, so we didn't take many photos but will go back again and have another try. 
We are leaving Marsden Cove Marina and heading up the river to Basin Marina, Whangarei.  We have our second Covid Vaccination on the 15th and are having our 20 year old saloon cockpit cushions replaced.  We're equally excited about both.